Today's Story Line

As the United States learned in Vietnam, winning the war of public opinion is crucial to any military campaign. It's a lesson the Russians have clearly learned as they march closer to the Chechen capital of Grozny.

In Japan, the vice minister who advocates a nuclear arsenal won't find much job security. Still, it's a discussion more and more Japanese are willing to have.

Silence isn't golden? BBC accountants want more noise in the office so they're buying a chat-and-laugh machine. - David Clark Scott, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *PHONE HOME - IF YOU CAN: The only way to call your editor and send a story from Dili, East Timor, is by satellite phone. These computer notebook-size devices are a necessity in remote locations. But as his filing deadline came and passed for today's story on returning refugees, the Monitor's Cameron Barr was still frantically trying to send his story. The sat phone batteries conked out just as he punched the "send" button. He urgently persuaded a Portuguese journalist to allow him access to the only barely functioning electrical outlet. But "you need to be outdoors, so the phone has a clear line of sight to the orbiting satellite," explains Cameron. "I tried it from a window but couldn't get a signal." Stretching the cord to its full length, he desperately tried to position the sat phone, while the cantankerous outlet sparked. In an effort that would make E.T. proud, Cameron finally found the right combination of power, signal strength, and cyber-connectivity.

*AT HOME WITH IRANIAN JEWS: All the Iranian Jews reporter Michael Theodoulou met for today's story (this page) showered him with hospitality. In the ancient city of Shiraz, lower-income Jews "were keen to chat and offered me dinner." He did accept one invitation for orange soda and store-bought cookies. But when the conversations strayed to the trial of 13 Jews accused of spying, folks clammed up. In Tehran, Mike didn't have the customary documents from the Ministry of Information giving permission for him to do interviews. But he still found rabbis at the synagogues willing to talk to him off the record. "There was unease over the spy case, but no sense of panic," says Mike.

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY *POLITICS TO THE LEFT AND RIGHT: As foreshadowed in the Oct. 22 edition, Argentina's center-left presidential candidate Fernando de la Rua won a landslide victory Sunday. And in Switzerland, the far-right People's Party had a strong showing in parliamentary elections Sunday, taking nearly 23 percent of the vote.

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